EXODUS was a piece that came out of an improvisational photoshoot with my friend, artist Kelly Grace, at her studio in April 2014. I rented as many vintage dresses as we could carry. It was one of those paintings that should have taken me about three weeks, but instead it took three months because I made the mistake of thinking I had to paint shadows on the wall for each butterfly. It made sense visually at the time, but half-way through painting all those butterfly shadows, I realized I'd made a huge error in judgement. The whole thing became much too busy and ruined the soft glow of the spotlight on the wall behind her. I had already painted a fair number of butterfly shadows, so I had no choice but to repaint the wall behind her. I just about lost my mind. Blending a perfectly round soft hazy spotlight is challenging enough, but painting it AROUND a gazillion red butterflies was a bit of a nightmare. Cadmium red has a way of eventually bleeding through anything that gets painted over it, so I had no choice but to paint around the butterflies, unless I wanted to start over. A few times I really thought this girl was going to just roll over onto the graveyard pile, but she stuck it out.
THREAD AND BONE (below) started out with a completely different character. But I felt there wasn't enough dissonance between her and the environment. I thought she should be more unvented and bottled up. In a setting that ferocious, she would most definitely be trying to hide her appetite for carnage. I also thought it would be interesting if somehow what she was wearing subtly echoed the bloody veins of the meat slabs behind her.
MIRROR (below) was from my 2011 series, Colossus. They paintings were based on the poetry of Sylvia Plath. This piece was inspired by the poem Mirror, as well as a story Plath told about the hurricanes she experienced when she lived with her grandmother on the coast of Maine. She described finding sharks washed up in the garden. I loved the implications of that metaphor.
Here's another piece from that same shoot with Kelly Grace. It was a simple concept with all the detail of the image going into the lace stitching of her dress. There were a lot of butterflies in my work at that time. They usually pop up when I'm reflecting on themes of independence or freedom.